Staff, student and parent perceptions of the Longview School District’s performance in key areas for success has remained “relatively flat” over the last three years, said Superintendent Dan Zorn. But those perceptions continue to rank equal to or better than highly improving schools and the nationwide average in most areas.
Zorn presented the latest results of three Center for Educational Effective surveys at Monday night’s school board meeting. The surveys are designed to help schools, districts and states measure how different groups perceive a school performs on nine characteristics that research shows are commonly observed in successful schools.
Those characteristics include collaboration and communication; clear and shared focus; high standards and expectations; effective leadership; supportive learning environment; parent and community involvement; curriculum, instruction and assessment; and monitoring of teaching and learning. A survey for teachers also measures focused professional development and district support for improvement.
Longview has been administering the survey each year for many years, Zorn said, and district officials track how perceptions have changed over time. Zorn’s presentation Monday considered data gathered in the last three school years, including the 2018-19 year.
The survey measures the percentage of participants that gave positive responses (“always” or “almost always”) on statements relating to each characteristic. Most of the responses in all three surveys fell within five percent of last year’s surveys, Zorn said. However, there was a significant drop in staff perception of district support for improvement.
Zorn said that may have happened because staff felt principals spent less time discussing school improvement goals with them. Principals have reviewed their school-specific surveys and have plans to address those concerns, Zorn said.
“It’s been a tough year. There has been a lot of things going on, and I think we are all looking forward to restarting in the fall and moving forward,” Zorn said.
Nonetheless, staff perceptions in Longview are better than highly improving schools and the nationwide average in all areas but district support for leadership.
Student perceptions, though relatively steady since the 2016-17 school year, also ranked higher in all areas as compared to improving school and the national average. Parent perceptions are slightly better than two years ago at the district level, but they more closely resemble rates for highly improving and nationwide averages.
Zorn said that shows that “in a lot of respects our kids feel … good about what they are getting in our schools,” but there is “still work to do” to improve parents’ perceptions.
District officials will focus on improving communication with staff, students and parents to help in areas the district’s weaker areas, Zorn said. At the building level, principals will focus on including teachers in “the (improvement) goal setting process.”
However, there will be no way to measure if those strategies improve perceptions next year, as the CEE surveys were “one of the casualties of our budget reductions,” Zorn said. The district will not administer the surveys next year, which will save about $40,000.
Zorn added that the district is looking for a “interim step” so they can continue to gauge public perceptions through similar, but cheaper, methods.
“We will lose our longitudinal look at it to be able to compare apples to apples over time,” Zorn said. “But I do feel it will be more cost effective.”
Also Monday the school board:
- Approved the adoption of new teaching materials for Advanced Placement Spanish, high school earth and space science, middle school science and middle school English language arts.
- Set a regular meeting for May 28.
- Reviewed proposed updates to district policies on home and hospital instruction, student conduct, student discipline and prohibition of student sexual harassment. Those policies will advance to “second read” at the next regular meeting, where the board can vote to adopt the proposed updates or continue to revise policy language.